Serendipity is traditionally spelled s-e-r-e-n-d-i-p-i-t-y.

I spell it S-p-e-c-t-r-u-m.

Pure serendipity, that's what it was just more than 15 years ago. The timing was perfect.

My brother, Art Cummings, and I were both about to depart the now late, great New Milford Times, for which we'd worked together for more than 22 years, to go our separate ways.

Along with longtime reporter Lynda Wellman and young editorial assistant Deborah Rose, we instead were attracted to the challenge of starting up a totally new newspaper covering the very same towns -- New Milford, Washington, Roxbury, Bridgewater, Kent, Sherman and Warren.

The lure was too great to resist. As local residents with a passion for community journalism, we set to work in early February of 1998.

Three weeks later, the first edition of The Greater Milford Spectrum was born.

On board for our first edition were Art, Lynda, Deborah and me, plus photographer Stephanie Kouloganis.

Office manager Karen Beckerman joined us not long thereafter.

We've never looked back. More than 780 editions later, we celebrate our 15th anniversary date this week.

The Spectrum is now such an integral part of the Greater New Milford lifestyle for so many people that, in some ways, it's difficult to remember when it wasn't around.

For my brother, Art, who is now editor emeritus for The Spectrum and The News-Times, for Deborah Rose, now a talented and veteran writer/photographer, and for me, the past 15 years have been a very special time.

Along the way, we've been blessed to have Karen Beckerman, Janine Toussaint and Roberta Buddle as our office managers, our faces to offer a friendly greeting to the public at our wonderfully situated office along the Village Green.

We started way back when with a stalwart advertising crew of Ellen Therrien, Marty Bailey and News-Times veteran Charlie Toussaint, who helped us get off the ground with a flourish. Through the years, we've benefited from the strong marketing work and enjoyed the friendship of several other salespeople.

Now our ad sales and digital media specialists feature the forever-young Mr. Toussaint, Cindie Niemiera, Rob Prest and Justin Greenfeld, among others from our parent company, the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Through the early years of The Spectrum, such local stories featured a new New Milford High School and the renovation and realignment of New Milford's other schools, as well as revitalization of the New Milford village center and the long-awaited widening of Route 7 to four lanes.

The rape and murder of 13-year-old Mary Ann Measles and the fatal shooting of Franklyn Reid by New Milford police officer Scott Smith grabbed national attention.

Such wonderfully gifted icons and area residents as Arthur Miller, William Styron, Frank McCourt and Skitch Henderson bid their final goodbyes.

The stories through the years have ranged from the celebratory joy of high school graduations to the saddest of the sad, the fatal shootings of Dec. 14 in Sandy Hook.

We were privileged to share the millennium experience and New Milford's 300th birthday, as well as numerous other major milestones within our seven communities, with you all.

From politics to police news, through hurricanes and blizzards, from New England championships won by high school athletes to introducing each year's first baby born at New Milford Hospital, The Spectrum has done its best to report and inform, hopefully entertaining our readers with our writing and photography.

For the first three years of our existence, Stephanie Kouloganis proved a valuable member of the staff with her people-oriented, lively photography.

For 11 years, much of the heavy lifting on the reporting front was done by Lynda Wellman, comprehensive in her attention to accuracy and never one to let a story pass her by.

For two years, between the tenures of Art and me, Jacky Smith ably guided The Spectrum's fortunes.

Today, the nucleus of our staff is the ubiquitous Deborah Rose, veteran reporter Susan Tuz, a New Milford native who loves the challenge of covering seven towns, and me.

We are fortunate to boast gifted freelance photographer Trish Haldin as a regular contributor, and longtime friend Walter Kidd lends a skilled hand photographically from time to time, too.

With immeasurable assistance from the staff of our sister paper, The News-Times, we are ready and excited about rolling along into our 16th year of service to our seven-town area.

The Spectrum may still be a relative youth when it comes to chronology, but we promise we'll continue to offer our very best efforts with an experienced and caring touch.

We offer a sincere thank you for your readership since 1998 as we look forward to the next 15 years.